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June 07, 2006

Gaming McDonalds:


RTMark & Abrupt Social Change

On Monday at the International Serious Games Event in England, "McDonald's Interactive" director Andrew Shimery-Wolf announced that "We can no longer stand by while McDonald's corporate policies help lead the planet to ruin." The group, he added, was breaking away from its parent company to directly address the fast-food giant's unsustainable ways. Inspired by the training videogame America's Army, MI devised a game that can simulate various environmental and business conditions and how manipulating different aspects can affect both the bottom line and ecological problems like deforestation. By running sims, they realized that Abrubt Social Change (ASC), not mere "ethical consumerism," is the answer. Shimery-Wolf told attendees at the games conference:

The concept of Abrupt Social Change, or ASC, is an old and respectable one, a shortcut from rationality to the nerve centers of power that has often accomplished what more systemic approaches cannot. The British Occupation of India, the Vietnam War, even feudalism in Europe were only ended through ASC movements.

And just as governments and NGOs have sometimes assisted ASC movements abroad, so we can be a force for Abrupt Social Change here at home. We in the Interactive Division are using all of our autonomy within McDonald's to do so.

1. For one thing, we are appealing to McDonald's franchisees to allow their restaurants to serve part-time as meeting areas where plans for mobilization can be developed, hatched, and acted upon. We have commitments so far from seven owners in Decatur, Illinois, Tucson, Arizona, and Troy, New York.

2. We will offer direct financial assistance from our divisional budget to groups actively involved in effecting ASC, within or outside of franchisee restaurants.

3. We will help develop technologies useful to mass mobilization, such as the cell-phone text broadcasters so useful in the Ukraine in the recent Orange Revolution. As for McMarketplace, it will serve as a tool to explore methods for change, and to learn just how governments might be forced to adequately control corporations.

Again, we strongly feel that legislation is indeed our only hope, and what we must fight for via Abrupt Social Change.

"Ethical consumerism" or other market-based approaches will not help. A recent poll showed that 83% of UK consumers intend to purchase ethically on a regular basis; 5% actually do. And boycotts and other forms of consumer pressure are valiant but ineffectual, capable of producing only momentary, localized changes in corporate policy. As for "ethical investment," its potential is sadly quite small.

No, economic forces won't save us; there's a reason we have governments, voting, and laws that must be obeyed. But since governments won't create the right laws without popular pressure, helping to generate that pressure is the only responsible choice, the only true CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility].

If it sounds too good to be true, that's cuz it is. The presentation, which followed the release of the free McMarketplace video game, is reportedly the work of Yes Men-like art/activist consortium RTMark. As far as I can tell, the actual McDonald's has not yet responded publicly to the presentation.

Download the Powerpoint presentation here. [posted by Paul Schmelzer on Eyeteeth: A Journal of Incisive Ideas]

Posted by jo at June 7, 2006 06:00 PM